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Peru pelican deaths: Government declares health alert, says keep off northern beaches

Peru's government declared a health alert along its northern coastline on Saturday, telling residents and tourists to stay away from beaches while it investigates mass pelican and dolphin deaths in the area.

Dalmatian pelicans russia 2012 02 21 Enlarge
The Dalmatian pelicans are the world’s largest variety of pelican. Around 1,400 of them are thought to live in southern Russia. (SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Peru's government declared a health alert along its northern coastline on Saturday, telling residents and tourists to stay away from beaches while it investigates mass pelican and dolphin deaths in the area.

At least 1,200 birds, mostly pelicans, were found dead along a stretch of Peru's northern Pacific coast late last month, shortly after between 800 and 900 dolphins were found washed up dead in the same area, according to Reuters. The South American country's health ministry has recommended staying away from beaches, although it has not banned residents and tourists from the area, which is now in its low season. Health officials have been told to use gloves, masks and other protective gear when collecting dead birds.

More from GlobalPost: Peru: 1,200 dead pelicans found on northern beaches (PHOTOS)

The government warning did not say what the danger was on the Peruvian beaches, reported Fox News. The country's agricultural safety service said Friday that the pelicans had not died of avian flu, which could be contagious to humans. Local fishermen and restaurant owners said their business has not been affected much.

The investigation of the deaths of both the pelicans and the dolphins is ongoing and, according to CNN, it is not clear whether they are connected. Peru's Deputy Environment Minister Gabriel Quijandria said last month the dolphins may have died from an outbreak of Morbillivirus, a class of viruses from the same family as human measles, or Brucella bacteria, the cause of many serious animal diseases.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/peru/120507/peru-pelican-deaths-government-declares-health-alert